When Science and Dance Converge


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Today, I happen to be nursing a dancing-related injury from a weekend spent at a festival just outside of Asheville, N.C. So I have dancing on the brain -- in addition to the doctor-prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxers.

A few weeks ago I blogged about dancing and how a team of German scientists sought to unravel its role in human mating with an endless loop of Robbie Williams. But what else does science have to say about dancing? Let's look at a couple of recent, science news items about getting down with the rhythm.

Fear of Music: Are you afraid of disco and all the wonders it might bring into your life? Well get with the times, grandpa -- the disco backlash is so 1979. Interestingly enough, disco fear crept its way into the scientific world as well during the 70s and 80s. In an article for the Guardian, Improbable Research's Marc Abrahams explores the various disco-related studies to come out of the era. And we're talking doctorate theses and scholarly publications. Among these were studies dealing with disco-related deafness, disco-related cervical chord injury and disco-related meningococcal disease.

Dancing Parrots: According to a recent article from New Scientist, humans aren't the only creature with the evolutionary ability to appreciate music. A group of Harvard researchers turned to, of all places, YouTube to conduct their study. Aside from being a virtual swampland of online ignorance, the massive Web site also hosts thousands of cute animal videos that involve dancing. The team found that parrots and even one species of elephant are capable of getting down. Check out Allison's post on the subject for even more details -- and a video.

New Scientist has also published articles dealing with dancing algae, dancing carrots and dancing asteroids. In these stories, however, it's more a matter of someone choosing to spice up their headlines.

Learn more at HowStuffWorks.com: How Hip-Hop Works How Total Knee Replacement Works Can House Music Save the Energy Crisis? Top 5 Music Festivals


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.